Use Well The Gifts – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom’s Homily September 1, 2019

“This weekend of course we celebrate Labor Day and Labor Day is a wonderful holiday for us in the United States.  Like most of our holidays it’s kinda been twisted in terms of it’s meaning. It mainly is looked upon now as an end to summer, the swimming pools are gonna close and so it’s kind of the last hurrah before we enter into fall and it’s kind of a day for barbecues and swimming pools and that’s about it, but it’s really a celebration about the gift of labor and it used to be in our country that particularly the labor unions used would have great parades and in some places I’m sure they still do, parades to celebrate the gift of labor and how important it is that we appreciate the deeper meaning of our labor.  Certainly labor we know is important for us. We need to work, we need to be productive within our lives, we need to provide for ourselves and our families, we need to continue to make a contribution to society. There’s a deeper always meaning to our labor that our labor is also sharing in the creative power of God that in our labor we are invited to build up creation to help perfect that creation that God has entrusted to us. I used to think when I was a child that labor was just the result of original sin, we had to work because of that blessed sin of Adam and Eve, but if you read Genesis, Adam and Eve worked in the Garden even prior to their sin and so there’s something very just human about creation.  It’s something about enabling as we share in that building up of God’s creation and so there’s a dignity that is there that we really need to celebrate that it’s a means of providing for our families. It’s a need for us, an opportunity for us to contribute to society, but it’s also a very spiritual act as we seek to perfect, to continue to build up this creation that is ours. It’s also a reminder for us that we are entrusted with a very great responsibility and that is the care of the creation that God has given us and of our responsibility to creation itself. This is the world day of prayer for care for our creation and it’s an important opportunity for us to stop and think about the fact that God has entrusted so much to each and every one of us as well as to all of us as a common humanity.  The beauty of our creation is so wonderful and great and we can so often take it for granted and sometimes we can even misunderstand the scriptures for in Genesis it talks about the fact that man was given dominion over all the things of the Earth and unfortunately too often that has been interpreted as domination, control, opportunity for exploitation. Dominion really means care, responsibility that humanity has been given responsibility for the care of this creation that is ours not to exploit it not to destroy it, but rather to care for it to enhance it and to preserve it for future generations and so there is that great responsibility that we have in terms of ecology.

Pope Francis in his first encyclical, Laudato Si, was very strong in encouraging us to realize first of all, that we’re part of creation.  No, we do have a spiritual soul that goes beyond the material, but our body is very definitely part of creation. We are not separate from the created world, but rather we are part of it and to appreciate the dignity that is ours by reason of that but also our responsibility and I know that this whole thing of ecology is so fraught with political positions and politicising, but we’ve gotta go above that, we’ve gotta go beyond all the arguments about one thing or another, climate control or global warming or whatever it may be, we’ve gotta go beyond that to the deeper appreciation to that greater understanding of the beauty of the creation entrusted to us and the responsibility that we have as stewards of this creation.  I’m sure all of us kinda feel, ‘Well what can I do about all the challenges that creation has?’ We can all do some little part. We can all do something in order to be more responsible in the use of creation in using well all that God has given us. I know every time I take out the trash from the rectory I think, ‘Gosh, there’s too much trash in this world, there’s too much waste, there’s too much just indifference to some very important parts of our life that we need to focus in on occasionally and maybe reduce some practices that would help us to appreciate and to be better stewards of creation. You know that spirituality of stewardship is not just about our finances. It’s more importantly about that attitude of gratitude to God for all of God’s blessings and one of the most important ways that we express gratitude is to use well the gifts that are given to us and so as we celebrate this day let us give thanks for the gift of labor by which we help build up creation, but also to renew that commitment to truly respect and safe guard ad enhance the beautiful creation that God has shared with us.